‘an oldie from la derive which i love because it was pre-move to melbourne….’
My greatest fear when travelling to Melbourne is that an army of hipster trendy types in skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses will rise up and, as a collective on their über chic fixie bikes, take over the city one latte at a time.
Then I realise I’m one of them.
A weekend in the southern capital was met with both excitement and dread. Excitement because I genuinely love exploring in Melbourne and finding new gardens and art installations to visit; dread because the art, cafés and fashion are so good that these days, everybody knows it and it’s hard to find a little indie place without the crowds. Breakfast on Saturday morning for a group of eight was near impossible without splitting – all those little cafés in back streets that were once known only to clever locals are now teeming with tourists – us included. But they’re still beautiful, and they still have their little whimsical ways about them: coffee with no mug options, ridiculously small milk jugs to serve table water (oh, how impractical! But they’re just so quaint it doesn’t matter….), and a habit of putting things on the menu they no longer serve.Little sister is planning a permanent move to our hipster capital, and so we went traipsing out to the bay for house-hunting. Admittedly, I wasn’t looking forward to it (and this is the first time I’ve told her that); I’m not fond of rentals, I can’t stand real estate agents and after living in Sydney for years with the worst of the worst in vendors, I’m happy to never have to deal with them again. But the trip proved not only to be successful in leasing research for sis, but also gave me opportunity to find a couple of suburbs I would more than likely have never even looked at. After a slightly stressful attempt to pick the right tram on the right line (honestly Melbourne, can you make it any more confusing?!?), we ended up at the junction of Elsternwick and Elwood; slightly east of St Kilda. Elwood seems to be the St Kilda for people who are a bit too old and respectable for St Kilda: trendy, but not too trendy; upmarket, but not too upmarket. Full of winding cobbled lanes and old 1950s bungalows next to the bay, it’s a beautiful little alternative to its much louder and more popular neighbour. And it’s home to a pub with the biggest VB sign I’ve ever seen…..
A couple of ‘must do’s for Melbourne tourists include a trip to Hosier Lane, which is a ‘kill two birds with one stone’ street. Not only do you get to admire some of the funkiest street art in Australia (and as far as I know, the only outdoor installation completely dedicated to constantly changing street art – happy to be proven wrong), but you also get to feast your eyes on one of Melbourne’s best restaurants and Australia’s best Spanish tapas bar: MoVida. We headed to the slightly larger and less schmancy MoVida Aqui on Bourke St for a belated birthday dinner for sis later in the evening: the wine is amazing, the tapas fantastic and the service incredible.Also on the must do list is a wander to the National Gallery of Victoria. Currently showing what must be a beautiful exhibition on Viennese legends including Klimt and Loos, the hidden secret to the gallery isn’t in the upstairs exhibition rooms, but actually outside: the sculpture garden to the rear of the building is gorgeous, no matter the season. And there’s a Rodin that seems to channel Barry Humphries at his most flamboyant for good measure too. As a garden lover and a natural daydreamer, I love finding parks and water features everywhere I go. The Parliament Gardens, fittingly next to Parliament House at Spring St not only have a great fountain that manages to resemble an outdoor shower block for the less fortunate (and I’m sure is used regularly in that manner), but also has great views: the dome of Carlton Gardens is recognisable in the distance, and the spire of St Patrick’s Cathedral next door is a beautiful, yet slightly imposing feature of the area – probably exactly its intention.
I could keep writing about places to see and things to do in Melbourne. I could dedicate a whole blog, just to Melbourne. And admittedly, I haven’t even lightly touched on some of the more amazing and obvious attractions in the city. But the beauty of a city that relishes in its individuality through pokey terraces, winding laneways and ever-changing street-scape is that every person will have a different experience, every time they visit.
*nb: For those of you confused by the title of the blog, this is the latest campaign by Yarra Trams regarding tram safety: be careful of those raging rhinos coming at you at breakneck speed!
Do: ignore AFL and go watch the Storm play a game of NRL. We saw them play St George. St George lost, so there’ll be no more said on that subject…..
See: The Australian Ballet has a triple bill of British choreography coming up. Looks fabulous.
Eat: Pretty much anywhere, but you can’t really go past Embrasse in Carlton. Unbelievable french food from The Ages’s GFG 2010 ‘Young Chef of the Year’.
Drink: Chapel St in Prahran is home to some of the more trendy nightclubs in town. However if you go 200m down the road to South Yarra you’ll find some of the nicest and trendiest bars to share a drink with friends. Check out the Temperance Hotel. For an afternoon session on a sunny weekend, the Riverland Hotel right next to Federation Square is great for people watching while you sit on the banks of the Yarra.
Wine of the Week: 2010 St Hubert Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley